Education Department Considering Stack of New Rules

Thursday, 15 February 2024 13:35

Education Department Considering Stack of New Rules Featured

Written by Jennifer Palmer, OklahomaWatch
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Under State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters, the once sleepy administrative rules process is now weighty and fast-paced.

Nineteen new rules, on topics from prayer in schools to accreditation standards, are up for public input and consideration by the Oklahoma Department of Education.

Administrative rules, if approved, are codified in state law. But first, the public has an opportunity to weigh in via email or in public hearings, which for the current proposals start today and continue Friday and Tuesday (more information is available on the department's administrative rules website.)

One rule, titled Declaration of Foundational Values, defines education as equipping students with certain values and virtues, including truth, goodness and beauty and declares that good and evil are real and universal.

Once in effect, the rule states the Department could use its authority to evaluate schools in ways that upholds and protects those values and ideals, however they choose to define them.

Another proposed rule would require every school district to adopt a policy permitting students and teachers to pray, including at sporting events and graduation ceremonies. Districts that fail to comply would receive a deficiency in accreditation.

Under another proposal, school districts would face academic deficiencies in accreditation if fewer than 50% of students scored at least basic in English language arts or math on state tests, beginning this school year. Walters and the Board of Education placed this bar on Tulsa Public Schools this year and the proposal would apply it to every district.

Following the public comment period, the rules are sent to the Board of Education for adoption, then the Legislature. Rule changes go into effect once approved by the Legislature or governor.

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“Oklahoma Watch, at oklahomawatch.org, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that covers public-policy issues facing the state.”

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